Dundee Liberal Democrat Councillors: Dundee golf course, buses, libraries, observatory and castle closures can be avoided

23 Feb 2024
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Dundee City Council’s Liberal Democrat councillors have released their budget proposals ahead of next Thursday’s council budget meeting. They have said that every one of the possible cuts the Leisure and Culture Dundee Board have highlighted can be avoided which would result in Caird Park golf course, Mills Observatory, Charleston and Arthurstone libraries and Broughty Ferry Castle remaining open to the public.   

They also make clear that supported bus services and the sheltered shoppers’ bus can be saved from the axe, with controversial new on-street parking charges in Broughty Ferry dropped.

Dundee’s Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Fraser Macpherson said:

 “It is very clear from feedback from the Dundee public that they would be outraged if 2 public libraries in Charleston and Stobswell closed, Caird Park golf course was lost and the Mills Observatory and Broughty Ferry Castle were closed to the public. However, we hope the other two groups on the council will agree with our analysis that it is perfectly possible to find the necessary additional funding for Leisure and Culture Dundee to keep these vital facilities open.”

“We also think it would be the cruellest cut of all to take the sheltered tenants’ shoppers’ bus and supported bus services away that help some of the most vulnerable elderly people in our community go shopping and get out and about. We are pleased that the Community Transport Association has highlighted the need to save these vital services and the Liberal Democrat budget amendment would indeed find the funding to save these bus services as well as avoid the Leisure and Culture Dundee proposed cuts.”

The Liberal Democrat budget proposals include uplifting £500 000 additional funding for Leisure and Culture Dundee earmarked by council officers in the base budget with an additional £620 000 using covid reserves to make sure the 2 libraries, Caird Park golf course, Broughty Ferry Castle and Mills Observatory remain open. The proposals also include £156 500 to allow Dundee City Council to promote new bus contracts for the shoppers’ bus and services 204, 206 and 236, which the SNP administration proposes to axe from 31st March 2024.

Depute Group Leader and Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan added:

“I was outraged at the proposals to close Broughty Ferry Castle and impose new parking charges on-street in the central Broughty Ferry shopping area and our budget amendment would avoid both. I agree strongly with Broughty Ferry Traders’ Association that these would be highly detrimental to Broughty Ferry and we can stop these from happening.”

“Indeed, to further promote Broughty Ferry’s shopping area, in addition to axing the controversial on-street car parking charge proposals, the Liberal Democrat proposal would see a cut of 30p to off-street parking charges in Broughty Ferry car parks and would also to this in other shopping areas like Hilltown and South Tay Street.”

“We really must be supporting our shopping areas and our budget proposals aim to do just that.”

The LibDem budget amendment also sees proposals to improve Dundee’s pavements and roads and also invest in new capital equipment to tackle pothole repairs more robustly.    

Strathmartine councillor Daniel Coleman added:

 “We are also proposing an additional £2 million next year for roads resurfacing, £1 million on pavements resurfacing to properly tackle the state of many footpaths and road surfaces that we get so many complaints about and a substantial sum to allow the roads maintenance partnership to purchase state-of-the-art new equipment to improve pothole repairs with a permanent repair, to avoid the continual need to carry out multiple pothole repairs over time at the same location.”

“We get many complaints about the state of pavements and roads and this sort of capital investment in our city’s infrastructure is absolutely vital.”

As in past years, the Liberal Democrat budget has sought to invest in street cleaning and this year it has proposed re-hiring every single street cleaning post in Dundee axed by the SNP since 2015. That’s some 39 posts, the SNP having cut the number of full time equivalent street cleaning and rapid response team jobs from 115 in 2015 to just 76 today.

West End councillor Michael Crichton said:

 “We continue to get many complaints from constituents about street cleaning in the city which is simply not as good as it used to be. The street sweeping staff left do a really good job but there’s just not enough of them now. It has been a picture of decline in the staffing resource year after year under the SNP.”

“Environment management generally has lost significant staffing since 2015 and in our view has borne a disproportionate share of the cuts.   For example, leaving aside cleaning the streetscape, the City Council has confirmed to us that grounds maintenance staff who maintain Dundee’s parks and open spaces has declined by 27 full time equivalent posts since 2015.”

“We want a cleaner city – not litter lying, overflowing Eurobins, litter bins and dog bins and to achieve this we need to help existing staff with the load they already have by adding more street cleaning staff so we have found the funding necessary to reinstate every single street cleaning post lost over the past 9 years.  We’ll also create new posts in forestry and animal control and add to the community safety warden and countryside ranger staff resource.”

To pay for this, the Liberal Democrats have identified a large range of small savings right across the council in areas like equipment and furniture, car allowances, travel and subsistence and also hospitality.  This would include scrapping the second civic vehicle and removing alcohol purchases.   It would also mean greater recharges for providing services to third parties.  

The Liberal Democrats also aim to accept Scottish Government funding to freeze the council tax this year although they make clear that the Scottish Government has failed to fulfil its promise to “fully fund” the council tax freeze. All the local government budget proposals that come forward in Dundee and across Scotland will have to include millions of pounds of cuts thanks to the SNP failing to properly fund local services provided by councils.

Other LibDem proposals double the frequency of bus shelter cleaning back to monthly as it used to be before the SNP halved it in 2022, reducing the brown bin charge rather than increasing it as the SNP proposes and opposing the SNP’s increase in the bulky uplifts charge and would aim to cut the SNP proposed charge by £8 per collection. The LibDems also propose additional expenditure to further support Dundee’s food network.

Councillor Macpherson concluded:

“Liberal Democrat budget proposals avoid the worst of the cuts like those suggested by Leisure and Culture Dundee and also allow for growth in key areas like supporting local communities, roads and pavements improvements, local shopping area improvements and keeping our streets cleaner.”

“We have a large series of alternative savings to balance the budget without impacting on vital services.”

“We have listened carefully to the issues our constituents are raising and feel our proposals are fair and deliverable.”